Denver Police to stop enforcing panhandling ban

Posted at 7:41 PM, Oct 02, 2015

Denver Police Chief Robert White has instructed officers not to charge people for violating the city's panhandling ban after a federal district court judge ruled a similar ban in Grand Junction violated the First Amendment.

"On September 30, 2015, the United States District Court for the District of Colorado struck down a Grand Junction Aggressive Panhandling ordinance similar to D.R.M.C. § 38-132," reads a DPD Training Bulletin obtained by 7NEWS. "Consequently, effective immediately, officers may not charge individuals with violation of the D.R.M.C. § 38-132."

The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the Grand Junction ban on panhandling, and also recently halted Colorado Springs' enforcement of its ban.

“We commend Denver for taking prompt action to suspend enforcement of a panhandling ordinance that violates the First Amendment rights of persons who peacefully ask for charity in public places,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado Legal Director.   “We will be asking city attorneys throughout Colorado to review their panhandling ordinances in light of the federal court’s decision.  Most of those ordinances will need to be repealed or dramatically revised.” 

The Denver Police bulletin to officers reminds them that certain behaviors associated with the panhandling ban can still be enforced such as touching someone without consent while soliciting, intentionally blocking a pedestrian or vehicle, and using violent or threatening language or gestures while soliciting.